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BPO industry ‘near hires’ get boost from Informatics

By: - Business Features Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 01:26 AM June 11, 2011

The information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry is expanding at a pace that makes other sectors of the economy absolutely green with envy.

According to data from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), this sunshine industry is expected to bring in as much as $25 billion in revenues and provide employment to as many as 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.

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But if these estimates are to be translated into hard reality that will contribute to the economy in a significant way, the communication and technical skill set of Filipinos with the potential to join the growing IT-BPO sector has to be enhanced.

Well known is the fact that only one in 10 who apply for a job in the IT-BPO sector gets employed because the communication and IT skills of the other nine hopefuls fail to make the grade.

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To help improve the odds for the applicants, Informatics Philippines, a leader in IT education, has spearheaded since December 2010 a program called Society for Higher Information Technology Education (SHIFT) that will provide so-called “near hires” of the IT-BPO sector with the skill set they need to land a job in the industry that pays much more than the minimum wage.

That crucial skill set will come through donations and support from the private sector, local government units, non-government organizations, BPO-member companies, students and volunteers. The pooled funds and expertise will then be channeled through the SHIFT program to up-to-date IT education that the country needs to take full advantage of the high demand in the growing IT-BPO industry.

The Business Processing Association of the Philippines is part of the program and intends to use part of the training fund under SHIFT to transform the near-hires into actual hires of BPAP-member companies in dire need of new personnel. BPAP will come up with a reimbursement system to sustain the scholarships.

Aside from funds, SHIFT will also facilitate donations of IT equipment and infrastructure as well as software and educational materials. It also hopes to get volunteers to teach IT classes to students and young professionals that will put them in a strong position to take on more competitive and financially rewarding jobs.

“The current mismatch between what is being taught in schools and what the industry is looking for hinders us from realizing our true potential as a leader in the offshore sector,” says Informatics CEO Leo Riingen, “There is a need to adjust to the rapid growth that the IT-BPO industry is posting. It all starts with quality education.”

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) has already committed P20 million to kickstart the program designed to make more Filipinos eligible to take a high paying job in the BPO-IT industry.

The 2009 ZDNet Asia IT Salary Benchmark Survey shows that an IT employee in the Philippines earns a salary of P363,264, far exceeding the country average family income, estimated at about P170,000 by the National Statistical Coordination Board. Thus, getting employed in the IT sector is a surefire way to improve the standard of living of qualified Filipinos.

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“It’s all about a shift in the way we view things. Access to a high-value industry, such as information technology, has already been presented to us Filipinos. With merging expertise and combined efforts, we will be able to heighten the productivity and success of our workforce,” Riingen says.

Informatics, for its part, is providing scholarships for IT education, teaching teachers and accepts donations of personal computers that will be used in IT training. It also targets overseas Filipino workers looking for a reason to stay in the country.

“Our role here is also to enable companies, individuals and governments to have a venue to donate resources for information technology training,” Riingen says.

He stresses in an interview that the IT sector is not just about the BPO sector. There are other sectors opening up here and abroad. These include the creative and entertainment fields, which will include gaming and mobile phone applications, as well as digital publication and animation.

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TAGS: bpo, Business, Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), Business Processing Outsourcing, Informatics, Information technology, IT
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